Metaphor Shapes Obama's State
of the Union
do you do to sell your idea of unity to an audience that is diverse, divided,
and, in many cases, downright hostile to you and your views?
immediately through metaphor.
That is exactly what
President Obama did last night in his State of the Union speech. As you read the
following, notice how he
up his theme with a story
Reviews the accomplishments of the troops working together
Describes the values they demonstrated
single-minded success to the splintering in current politics
Then uses the success of military unity as his
for what such unity could mean to America’s future
emotionally engaged audience. His theme set. His audience ready to hear the
“Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last
troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the
colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought - and
several thousand gave their lives.
We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United
States safer and more respected around the world. For the first time in nine
years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two
decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. Most of al Qaeda's top
lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban's momentum has been broken, and some
troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.
These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness, and teamwork of
America's Armed Forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us
down, they exceed all expectations. They're not consumed with personal ambition.
They don't obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand.
They work together.
Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example.(Emphasis mine)
Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in
educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech
manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we're in control of our own
energy, and our security and prosperity aren't so tied to unstable parts of the
world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is
Theme Repeated in Summary
Like all good communicators whether in politics, business or sales, President
Obama returned to his unity metaphor in his closing remarks.
“Which brings me back to where I began. Those of us who've been sent here to
serve can learn from the service of our troops. When you put on that uniform, it
doesn't matter if you're black or white; Asian or Latino; conservative or
liberal; rich or poor; gay or straight. When you're marching into battle, you
look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails. When you're in the
thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one Nation, leaving no
“So it is with America. Each time I look at that flag, I'm reminded that our
destiny is stitched together like those fifty stars and those thirteen stripes.
No one built this country on their own. This Nation is great because we built it
together. This Nation is great because we worked as a team. This Nation is great
because we get each other's backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this
moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long
as we're joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve,
our journey moves forward, our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union
will always be strong.”
Was the speech too long? Maybe. Did people agree with everything he said?
Certainly not. But did he engage, did he creatively and emotionally set up his
argument? Did he get people to listen? Definitely. And he did it with metaphor.
When the stakes are high, metaphor is your best strategy.
Make what you say pay — with metaphors.
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Personal Presentation Client:
"I sing your praises every opportunity I get. I look forward to
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Jane Newton, Wealth Manager, Regent Atlantic Capital LLC